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What is Entertainment, Sports and Leisure Law?

Identifying key issues in this broad area of law

If you are an actor or musician, painter or author, athlete or aspiring hotelier and you are wondering what legal rights you have and what legal issues you need to be aware of, you’re in the right place. Entertainment, sports and leisure law can be broad because it doesn’t cover one area of law; it has the potential to cover every area of law.

Because these practice areas are so broad, it might be intimidating to get started or identify potential legal issues. If you are working in one of these industries, this overview can help you identify key issues you will need to be familiar with and help you decide whether you want to seek out the assistance of a lawyer.


Entertainment, sports and leisure law are areas of law defined more by the clients and less by the specific area of law it addresses. The lawyer-client relationship can span most legal issues from contract negotiations to litigation in the event of disputes. Clients in this area can include actors, musicians, athletes, filmmakers, composers, screenwriters and production companies. Clients can also include businesses in hospitality and retail.

Entertainment and Sports

Entertainment and sports law tackle many similar legal issues. For example, both industries involve a lot of contracts that can govern anything from your relationship with your agent to licensing your image to sell products.


If you are in the entertainment industry or hoping to break into the industry, you may find you have to negotiate contracts for endorsements or public appearances. It will be important for you to understand every contract you enter into in case they contain noncompete or exclusivity clauses that can affect other opportunities you can pursue with an entertainment lawyer. If you are a writer or a musician, you may benefit from understanding intellectual property law and how to market and sell your creations.


If you are an athlete, the law may work different depending on whether you are an amateur or professional player. Amateur athletes usually participate in sports programs run by organizations that establish rules for eligibility. These organizations are often unchecked by courts as long as their rules are reasonable. If you are a professional athlete, your main contractual relationship will be with the team owner. You may also have a contract with an agent or sponsorship. Professional sports agents are usually lawyers who can negotiate any other contract you might enter.


Leisure law mainly pertains to hospitality and retail businesses, which include things like hotels, timeshares, golf courses, amusement parks and movie theaters.

If you run a similar business, you may want to consider seeking the advice of a lawyer who can help you negotiate real estate leases and employment contracts. Leisure law also addresses employee leisure time. These are often state-specific laws that tell employers how much vacation and personal leave they should allow their employees to take.

Common Questions

Below are some common questions you might want to consider when meeting with an entertainment law attorney for the first time.

  1. How does the law protect my image rights?
  2. What rights do I have as a student athlete?
  3. What should my endorsement contract include?
  4. What does a talent agent do?
  5. What do I need to know about running a hospitality business?

Finding the Right Attorney for Your Needs

It is important to approach the right type of sports and entertainment attorney—someone who can help you through your entire case. To do so, you can visit the Super Lawyers directory, and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location.

To help you get started, you may want to consider looking for a lawyer who practices entertainment, sports or leisure law.

Why Should I Talk to a Lawyer?

A lawyer can assist you every step of the way from business advice to litigation. An experienced lawyer will have the contacts and experience necessary to connect you with job opportunities and negotiate contracts. Your lawyer can help you protect your creations and your image so companies cannot use your likeness without your permission.

If you are running a hospitality business, your lawyer can help you with lease agreements and employment contracts. Your lawyer can also help you create business plans and negotiate contracts with vendors.

If you need to litigate an issue, your lawyer will be able to anticipate potential problems with your case and advise you on how to approach them. Your lawyer will also keep track of deadlines and file all the paperwork with the necessary courts and agencies, giving you one less thing to worry about.

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